Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves, which are smoked, chewed, or sniffed. Tobacco contains a chemical called nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance. Despite its addictive nature, millions of people in the United States have been able to quit smoking.

People consume nicotine in many ways. One method that has gained popularity among young people is vaping. Vaping is the inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), which has become common among teens. E-cigarettes (or “vape pens”) heat a liquid until it becomes a vapor, which is inhaled. The liquid (called e-liquid or “vape juice”) can contain nicotine or marijuana oil.

Fast Facts

  • Tobacco use results in illnesses and impairments, negatively impacting nearly every bodily organ. 
  • Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths. 
  • In 2021, about 11.5% of U.S. adults (estimated 28.3 million) were current cigarette smokers, with 13.1% being men and 10.1% women. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease 
  • Current smoking has declined from 20.9% (nearly 21 of every 100 adults) in 2005 to 11.5% (nearly 12 of every 100 adults) in 2021 
  • Many adult cigarette smokers want to quit smoking. 

*Current smokers are defined as people who reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes during their lifetime and who, at the time they participated in a survey about this topic, reported smoking every day or some days.

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Content sources: Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion